Dermatology: Bleeching could trigger increased sun induced skin cancer

A Consultant physician and dermatologist, Dr Shakirat Gold-Olufadi, has warned against skin bleaching products saying stripping skin melanin might cause an increase in sun induced skin cancers. Gold-Olufadi, who works at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday, in Lagos.

Skin bleaching is the practice that aims to lighten dark areas of skin or achieve a generally paler skin tone. Gold-Olufadi said that it was imperative to increase advocacy against the scourge of skin bleaching in Nigeria. The dermatologist noted that skin lightening had taken a worrisome pattern in the country, as some parents purchase products to bleach their children’s skin.

“I saw brightening kids cream recently being advertised on Instagram and I was shocked at the number of people requesting to buy it. I also saw a five year old with all the adverse effects of skin lightening using high potency steroids. This is sad!” she said.

Gold-Olufadi suggested that anyone engaged in skin brightening or bleaching for children should be sentenced to prison without an option of fine. She noted that enforcement of such would serve as deterrent to others, and help reduce the practice of skin bleaching in the country. The dermatologist said that many skin lightening products were unregulated and may contain harmful substances to the skin and overall body health.

According to her, melanin in black skin protects against sun induced skin cancers, aging and abnormal pigmentation. But if you keep stripping the skin of that melanin, one may have an increase in sun induced skin cancer in the future.

“Not surprising that people that practice skin bleaching, especially without sun protection, look way older than their age and they have abnormal pigmentation after some time,” she said. Speaking on the importance of good skin care, Gold-Olufadi said that it promotes psychological boost which translates to improved mental health.

“Diseases of other organs often manifest on the skin and it serves as a window to the other organs. Seeing a dermatologist can lead you to see other specialists that you may not have known you needed to see,” she said.

She further explained that the skin protects against harmful external environmental factors including disease causing organisms and removes certain waste products. Gold-Olufadi said basic skin care should include cleansing, moisturising and use of sunscreen of between 30 to 50 sun protection factor (SPF). She added that antioxidants could also be included in skin care routine, noting that the skin constitutes the largest organ in the body and performs many roles in the maintenance of life and health.